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Relaxing Winter Adventures in the Willamette Valley

By Matt Wastradowski
Snowshoeing | Hot Springs | Silver Falls Tour | Birdwatching | Wine Hiking | Waterfalls

As winter’s chill settles on the Willamette Valley, most of us hunker down, stay indoors, and start dreaming up plans for next spring and summer.

But doing so ignores the relaxing outdoor experiences that make winter such a special time in the region: ample bird-watching opportunities, steaming hot springs, roaring waterfalls, and more. Here’s a look at five ways to have laid-back, yet memorable winter adventures in the Willamette Valley this season.

The Willamette Valley sits at the base of the majestic Cascade Range—which in winter offers epic snowshoeing opportunities.

Learn about some of the Cascade Range's best snowshoe trails—complete with ideas for where to go, where to stay the night, and how to warm up after a day in the winter wonderland.

Breitenbush Hot Springs, just outside of Detroit, is one of the area's most popular hot springs. (Photo by Tom Robinson)

Relax, rejuvenate, and refresh with a soak in the many hot springs around the Willamette Valley. From primitive pools in the forested Cascade Range to beloved resorts with scenic soaks, find the Willamette Valley hot spring that fits your trip and plan your winter getaway today.

Silver Falls State Park is a popular getaway in spring, summer, and fall—but a winter trek rewards visitors with waterfalls at their thundering peak. Try a guided tour that takes you on a journey to chase waterfalls and create unforgettable memories in the Pacific Northwest's breathtaking scenery. This half-day tour offers a guided experience of Silver Falls State Park's falls, you may even walk behind a waterfall!

Check out our guide to Silver Falls State Park for the skinny on local history, where to stay, and how to enjoy the park’s many wonders in any weather.

Every winter, hundreds of thousands of birds pass through the Willamette Valley on their annual southbound migrations—and our national wildlife refuges make great places to spy these birds while enjoying our beautiful surroundings and diverse landscapes.

Learn more about the three refuges in the Willamette National Valley—with information on what makes each so special, what kind of wildlife you might spot (including birds, black bears, and elk), and where to enjoy a relaxing hike at each.

If there’s anything Oregonians love more than hiking through stately forests and across rolling hillsides, it’s sipping locally crafted pinot noir and chardonnay at our world-renowned wineries.

In recent years, several Willamette Valley wineries have taken steps to marry those passions by offering what they call “wine hiking"—inviting visitors to enjoy a leisurely stroll through manicured vineyards, hazelnut orchards, old-growth forests and other scenic ecosystems that showcase the region’s natural diversity. Get inspired for a novel outdoor adventure with four wine hiking trips in the Willamette Valley.

Alsea Falls is a year-round wonder in the Coast Range Foothills. (Photo by Alison Smith)

Even in winter, the waterfalls of the Willamette Valley amaze with thundering plumes fed by rainfall and snowmelt. And the quiet, chilly nature of the season means you can probably enjoy the scenic views in almost total solitude.

Our guide to the region’s nearly 30 waterfalls includes snow-free suggestions for winter outings, popular hiking trails, tips for visiting these awe-inspiring cascades all year long. 

Your adventure begins with the official Willamette Valley Travel Guide. Request your complimentary printed guide or download a digital guide today.

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